PS/MS 83 Donald Hertz
Experienced teachers and a pleasant atmosphere.
Large classes in middle school.
With students changing classes in nearly silent formation, classical music playing in the halls and art adorning walls throughout the school, PS/MS 83 is permeated by a calm, quiet atmosphere.
Situated in a quaint neighborhood peppered with small houses, the school has two buildings. Kindergarten through 4th grade students are housed in the "annex," which is actually a three-story brick building and was at capacity with more than 800 students in 2011. Upper grade students learn in the five-story middle school.
Classes tend to be large, ranging from 32 to 34 students in middle school. However, the school has a small-community feel. The halls are full of art and student projects, and many students move from one subject to another together, staying with the same class all day. Assistant principal Brandon Muccino, who has been at the school for more than a decade, seemed familiar with many students. As kids ran up and down the stairs and walked through the halls, he joked with some and issued friendly orders to others. [Muccino became principal in 2013.]
PS/MS 83 has a Regent's program in which middle schoolers can receive high school credit for classes such as earth science. There is also a middle-school guitar program, funded by VH1; a high-school prep course beginning in 7th grade; and clubs, including dance, drama and sports.
The school eliminated some of its programming for high achievers. Honors classes are available to eighth graders.
Both buildings have a cafeteria and gym, and the middle school has an auditorium, which got new seats in 2010. The school received a new playground in 2011, complete with basketball courts, play equipment and a track. Nearly all of the classrooms were equipped with Smart Boards, and every teacher had a laptop.
All the elementary classes were saw were chock full of books. Kindergarten rooms had play areas and communal rugs, although such things were absent in other elementary-level classes we viewed.
In 2011, the school had just five untenured teachers and Muccino said the majority had been in the system for more than 10 years. The staffers we met all seemed open, friendly and happy to be doing their jobs.
Each grade has about 200 students, and Muccino said in 2011, 13 students got into specialized high schools, with eight of those kids bound for the Bronx High School of Science. "A lot" of students enter parochial schools, and the rest tend toward small high schools, Muccino said.
Special education: The school offers separate classes for students with special needs, but there are also integrated classes in every grade. English language learners are also integrated into general education classrooms. Sometimes, students considered at risk work in groups of six in order to get up to speed before returning to their classrooms. Not all teachers are trained in special education, but there is professional development to help them learn more.
Admissions: The school accepts both zoned and out-of-zone students in elementary school. Most of the students who go to PS 83 enter the middle school. As a result, there is not much room for those who apply through the middle school choice process. (Nikki Dowling, November 2011; updated November 2014)
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Bronx NY 10462